This book gives us management theory in story format, says Hannah Lowry

Not into reading management books? Prefer novels? Here is your chance to cover both bases.

Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox aim to teach some management theory through a story. This is, after all, the traditional way to pass down learning. Think of the lessons you learned from Red Riding Hood and co.

The story begins with our hero, Alex, struggling to manage his factory: orders are late, unfinished work is stuck half way along the process chain and the staff certainly are not happy. Alex’s marriage is on the rocks because he is never at home.

Alex then meets a guru who asks him some searching questions.

Most of the story will be of more use to those in provider organisations than commissioning, given that it is largely about processes and throughput. The last part, where Alex focuses on the problems of the whole division, rather than just his factory, may be more useful to those who work in primary care trusts. The challenge is to translate the messages into our own work in the NHS, although maybe one of the strengths of the book teaching us through a story is that we have to make the effort to work out the meaning ourselves.

Of course I am not going to give away the ending of the tale but there are subtle messages in the story outside of the workplace too.

This book is no substitute for a good Maeve Binchy, but if you work in a provider organisation it might be worth the read. Especially if, owing to pressure of waiting lists and budgets, you happen not to be sitting comfortably.

Hannah Lowry is service reform lead - acute/primary care interface at Trafford primary care trust.

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